6 Steps to Building a Winning Case for Accounts Payable Automation
Guest Post by Canon Information and Imaging Solutions, Inc.
While more businesses are embracing the need to transform their accounts payables departments to become digital, data-driven and strategic, a surprising number of automation projects remain stalled.
Far too many accounts payable departments are sitting on the sidelines.
Payables pros cite a lack of budget, competing priorities and inadequate IT resources among the reasons for dragging their feet on automation. But many technology projects are stalled because finance pros are seemingly uncertain as to how to build a winning business case for automation.
Payables pros have no time to lose. If they don’t transform their processes to meet the needs of the future, they risk falling hopelessly behind their peers and putting their business at a competitive disadvantage. For payables to successfully operate in the emerging digital trade and commerce environment, it must capture, analyze and act on the vast amounts of data that it processes each day.
In truth, the C-suite doesn’t need to be convinced about the merits of transforming accounts payable. They understand that digital technologies such as intelligent data capture, workflow automation and seamless integration with enterprise financial systems like JD Edwards improve working capital performance, strengthen spend management and ensure and mitigate compliance and security risks.
But articulating the value proposition for digitally transforming finance can be difficult.
Following the six steps below will help ensure the success of your automation proposal:
- Detail your current challenges: A business case for accounts payable automation must address the concerns, issues or impediments that the technology is trying to solve. Where appropriate, show how current business processes are no longer sustainable. Include input from essential stakeholders such as procurement, finance and IT. Provide senior management with concise, easy-to-comprehend explanations of the challenges your department faces.
- Prioritize: Senior management will be leery of a proposal that does not include a clear and reasonable timeline. Managers are more likely to deny proposals to modernize an entire department immediately. A phased implementation approach that details the resources require for each step of the project is more likely to win senior management approval. Also be sure a proposal explains all the resources that the technology proposal entails.
- Demonstrate the full value of the technology: Management want to know that you thought through a technology’s value proposition. Detail current costs, calculate and rationalize the potential savings (include hard savings and soft savings), show any opportunities to redesign roles or reassign resources to support strategic tasks, and lay out the risks of inaction. And show how technology improves scalability and makes process improvement sustainable. A cost benefit analysis rooted in business value is key to winning senior management support. Collaboration across business and IT is vital for this exercise.
- Focus on the metrics that drive better business outcomes: A successful technology proposal must address the metrics most important to achieving business goals, such as working capital performance. Linking technology to these key metrics in a technology proposal is critical. Lay out initial and expected benchmarks to demonstrate technology’s impact on each metric.
- Align the business case with the strategic priorities of the business: It will be easier to line up senior management support for a business case that benefits the entire organization as well as finance. For instance, articulate how the technology will make the finance function and the business more agile and better positioned to manage working capital and corporate spend. The impact to IT should also be included such as the ongoing management, infrastructure and integration points with JD Edwards.
When it comes to areas of investment, accounts payable departments say automation is their top area of focus. But payables leaders often struggle to develop a successful proposal for automation.
Following the steps above and partnering with key stakeholders will help accounts payable create a winning business case for automation.
This guest post is brought to you by our Partner Canon Information & Imaging Solutions. Ready to take action? Download Canon’s latest white paper “10 Proven Steps to Accounts Payable Automation Success” to arm your team with a clear path to success.
About Canon Information and Imaging Solutions, Inc.
Canon Information and Imaging Solutions, Inc. (CIIS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc., brings together Canon’s world-class imaging technologies and information management expertise to assist organizations in achieving their digital transformation objectives. With a focus on innovation, CIIS’s software development and solutions delivery capabilities scale across several practice areas: Business Process Automation – including Procure-to-Pay & Order-to-Cash automation, Document Solutions, Information Management Services with a focus on content capture, management and collaboration, and Security and Infrastructure Management. With expertise in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics, CIIS deploys its solutions in partnership with leading technology providers and offers comprehensive consulting and professional services that are trusted by organizations of all sizes. Additional information about the company, its programs and mission can be found at ciis.canon.com.